Sunday, August 22, 2010
Test Cook #1
But the first order of business was The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley (The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone inBetween). I kinda fell in love with this book yet this admiration must first be proven and confirmed that it had the caliber to be a part of my Christmas list.
The recipe I first tried was Grilled Shrimp in Harissa with Fresh Corn Polenta and Cherry Tomatoes (pg 113-115 in the book). I wrote a list for the few items we had yet to acquire, the most important of which was polenta meal. I waited until Saturday (the day of the farmer's market) when my parents would follow me on an escapade to capture any and all ingredients we saw fit to accumulate (put simply: we went grocery shopping).
After a long day's massive quest for ingredients and produce whilst visiting Lawrence and the farmer's market there, we were still lift polenta-less. We went to Walmart, the Mercantile, Aldi's, another Walmart, and not until this morning did we manage to find the infamous medium ground grits aka polenta. This scouring had put me in an unpleasant mood, my enthusiasm the recipe was almost lost but once we unearthed it, the gorgeous wonderful phenomenal staggering corn meal - okay, I may be exaggerating quite a bit about its beauty, but after such the search and finally discovering it, I was once again keen to cook.
It turned out lovely, only a few changes to the original due to our family taste and the fact that cooking is an art, and whatever happens in the heat of the moment happens. My dad (the grill master, as most fathers are) grilled the shrimp and delivered them to the table with much pride. The Harissa (the marinade for the shrimp) was scrumptious, and according to Peter Berley's book originates in northern Africa. Its quick to concoct and tasted of warmth, of sun rays dripping over your tongue, of laying on the grass in mid-July heat...yummmm. And the polenta, oh my the polenta! It was magical, well worth all the toil and struggle to find. Its our home's new comfort food, balmy and smooth yet still retaining bite, the addition of fresh bits of corn brought out a whisper of sweetness while a dash of salt and butter complemented its corny elements. The only draw back was the tomatoes, they were by no means bad but unnecessary, they didn't add anything the dish needed and felt a tad akward with the other flavors.
In the end it was a grand undertaking, allowing my parents and I to savor the flavors even more.